The Inward Gaze of Alexandra's Blue Eyes
MARIA RAMIREZ RIBES
Founder and president of the Venezuelan Chapter of the Club of Rome.
If Alexandra Meijer-Werner's approach to the creative process could be defined with one word, it would be honesty. It is impossible for me to write about Alexandra’s work without taking her personal qualities into consideration, not only because her work is so evidently a direct outgrowth of her fierce commitment to a process of internal growth and renewal, but also because I personally witnessed her development both as an artist and as an individual.
I was privileged to spend much time in her company, and from the very beginning sensed the honesty and integrity with which she approached her strikingly original way of creating art, and the way she used multimedia technology to unlock her artistic, poetic and therapeutic energies.
It is not easy to classify Alexandra Meijer-Werner's work. In her case the conceptual approach, using image and sound, combines with a yearning to transform the world, from the individual to the collective. We experience her installations as a dialogue whose threads include all of us, including herself, the artists and people who collaborated in the making of the different videos, as a symbol of mankind as a whole. The basic elements - earth, air, fire and water - as well as the rituals imposed by tradition and culture acquire a special relevance in these videos. And in order to achieve this conscious and sensorial experience a deft for the poetics of imagery is essential. From an aesthetical and creative perspective this poetry fulfills its promise, that of erasing in the viewer any vestige of apathy. The harmony and beauty of many of these images, as well as their poignancy, combined with the atmosphere of her installations, are what draws the spectator into the art work - an essential interaction in Alexandra Meijer-Werner's work. In this sense her installations are doubly innovative because they dilute the dichotomy between work and spectator. In Alexandra’s case I would go so far as to say that her work only comes alive when the spectator’s gaze settles upon it , and surrenders to it as the beholder completes the works and allows for the transformation the artist is seeking to take place.
Her videos and installations raise questions for those who would rather believe that complex questions deserve complex answers. However, the questions that Alexandra raises in her work, drive home the inescapable conclusions that we are all responsible as individuals for the way our thoughts, our feelings, our words and our actions affect our collective reality. We cannot accept this truth until we are able to understand that the very structure of the paradigms that sustain our culture are failing. By leading us to turn our gaze inward, Alexandra asks that we summon up the courage to review the premises of culturally- determined convictions, and at the same time proposes that we seek within ourselves the spiritual strength necessary to perform this review. We all are what we see, what we absorb, what we believe, what we eat or don't eat, what we think and what we do. It’s a day-to-day process that requires us to continuously prod our dozing consciousness and awake to the fact that we as individuals are responsible for our environment.
Alexandra conceived art as a therapeutic means to "creat consciousness and bring hope". And that therapeutic process is valid both for the artist as well as for those who take part in the recording and those who surrender to it from the outside. Her videos demonstrate an absolute coherence with her view of the world in relation to the role that the work of art can have in the building of a more harmonious and inhabitable planet. And we could say the same about the production of these videos. The message of respect for the ecosystem is kept throughout the making of the video by creating the necessary conditions and atmosphere of freedom and respect for those who are a part of it, in order to allow the process of personal transformation to expand to the actors who take part of it. Diego López, who worked with her, says that one of Alexandra's virtues was the freedom she granted her colleagues. She let the performers grow and be enrich themselves with the creative experience all the while she herself and the work developed in communion with and experience of the moment.
There was no rigidity of any kind in her. Its openness and tolerance cleared the way so that the "rebirth", she so much worked on could happen in the most diverse spaces: in mud, in crystal clear waters, in the harmony of dance, in the apex of the abyss. There, she and the actors were able to surrender to the dynamics of the process and allow to set free its own rhythm as a metaphor of true rebirth. This collective effort created its own synergy and generated a vitality far greater that promised by the original idea.
Every one of her works is imbued with an empathy for the positive and constructive aspects of our human condition. This is reflected in her emphasis on the Zen Buddhist concept which posits that objects in and of themselves are not illusory, but rather the seeming separateness or independence between subject and object is an illusion. Awareness of this underlying reality can only come from individual experience, from the traces that our thoughts leave on our acts and which are the mark of the community, the traces of human destiny and collective destiny. That vast web woven by The Invisible Loom is not a dry abstraction. We all contribute to its making: the creator, the performers and the community that participates, watches and becomes aware of its responsibility or the mark it leaves on the cosmos. In Alexandra’s words: "We all make the world".
The invisible Loom, Kreislauf, Your feet my feet, Osmosis, Ouroboros, all constitute a warning call, an ode to the individual and collective awakening. Emulating the bird that used to remind the inhabitants of the island to awake awake, in Huxley's The Island. Alexandra with her installations and videos shakes up our sensitivity and shifts our consciousness towards an awakening in which the potential of rebirth is always present. Kreislauf presents the anonymous human being that is also individual, experience and sensation amid a cyclic dance in search of identity, differentiating itself from the other while at the same time reaffirming both oneself and everybody. But it is also a dance that resembles the flutter of birds or the beginning of human consciousness. A metaphor of rebirth, from the moisture of the, uterus, from the vitality of the seas. The symbolism and the mandala can be appreciated in the circular movements, in the static presences that remind us of an eternal environment, that always return to the eye of the gaze of the other, the gaze of many, the creator’s gaze and, literally, to the deep blue of Alexandra's own eyes, returning once more to the inhospitable dryness of dunes or the transparency of water. It is all part of that the permanent cycle of birth and death within which we are reborn every day, awaking from our slumber to realize that we are not just another bystander to life.
Osmosis takes up this idea again and goes further yet by including the unconscious in the osmosis as part of that fluid that penetrates the world of awareness, of desire, of imagination and dreams. This barely perceptible membrane, stores the memory, the rhythms of mood, emptiness, aggression, as well as the potential to transform them into a placid state. The way in which anxiety or fulfillment project themselves in our environment and the way we interaction with them. Osmosis shatters the illusion that there’s a dividing line between one’s mental state and its effect on the outside world. It invites the viewer to accept that there can be no freedom without inner freedom, just as there can’t be environmental peace without spiritual peace. This video starts with a very beautiful image of a circular dance as a metaphor for the potential of continuous rebirth. This is also the reason for the use of round symbols such as the wheel or the ball.
In Your Feet My Feet, Alexandra's eyes appear as a consciousness of harmonies and depredations, of possibilities, of tragedies and rites, of birth and death. The rural tribe, the urban tribe all part of a single humanity, whose aspects or elements cannot be ignored. Air, water, ice, earth, fire, everything has its place and its force.
Alexandra Meijer-Werner’s videos and installations are representations of the poetic manner in which she attempts to transcend the limitations of an artform in order to express her message. This message repeats itself one way or another in countless variants of this dance that is her work and that connects movement, harmony, coordination, interdependence, image, shadow, light, and darkness. Where, as in dance, even the slightest gesture has an impact on the ensemble. Sound is a crucial element in this process; it captures the unconscious and helps to focus our gaze, impressing upon us the truth that in life freedom of the process is more important than the objective as such. The genuine creative process, in life as in art, eschews rigidity and intolerance. This truth is the essence of Alexandra Meijer-Werner's work, and her legacy to all of us.